EXTRA! EXTRA! Christmas Comes Early This Year: Connections (#30)

Today marks the release of the CD “A Christmas Carol – The Concert.”  It is a pops style symphonic concert for orchestra, choir, a narrator and 3 soloists and our CD features some of Broadway’s best voices! Merwin Foard as “Scrooge”, John McDonough as “The Narrator”, Lawrence Clayton as “Cratchit”, Tony Winner Chuck Cooper as “Ghost of Christmas Present” and “Marley”, Daniel Reichard as “Fred” and “Ghost of Christmas Past”, and Sean Palmer as “Young Scrooge”.

The music is composed by my talented friend, Bob Christianson, who also co-wrote “Too Hot To Handel” which is being performed on November 14th at Carnegie Hall with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony. Book adaptation and lyrics are by Alisa Hauser.

The CD is available now for download on itunes: www.amazon.com/Christmas-Carol-Concert-Bob-Christianson/dp/B0043CT8HW

You can also visit his website: www.achristmascaroltheconcert.com

Bob told me that he decided to write “A Christmas Carol – The Concert” because of the success of my “Too Hot To Handel” concert piece (co-written with Gary Anderson) that has been performed for the past 20 years by many major orchestras in the US. Orchestra’s always need new material around Christmas time, because that’s always a good time to get families to experience the magic of a full symphonic concert.  He also feels that his writing strengths lie in writing pieces for large and diverse ensembles.  His favorite form is symphonic orchestra, large chorus, a rock/pop rhythm section, and vocal soloists. This is the structure of “A Christmas Carol – The Concert” as well as “Too Hot To Handel”.

When he and his collaborator, Alisa Hauser started writing the piece, they both realized although there were many, many film and “musical” versions of “A Christmas Carol” there didn’t seem to be one written specifically to be played in a concert setting: without scenery, costumes and staging. So they decided to try their hands at that form.  Their version tells a slightly different version of “Christmas Carol”…one that it closer to the book than to the black and white movies we all love.  As a matter of fact, there are a lot of character situations in the films that they wanted to write songs around, but they found out that these “off-shoots” of the story were not in the original story at all! But, they found a lot of interesting material in the original book that was never used in any of the famous films, and so their version of the story  has some surprises.  “For people who only know the films.  Alisa did a magnificent job of writing the lyrics and adapting the book… I couldn’t have asked for a better collaborator,” Christianson told me.

Their version of “Christmas Carol” is performed with a full symphony orchestra; a large choir; a rock/pop rhythm section, and 4 singer/actors.  One of the performers is “The Narrator”, and in addition to narrating the story to a musical background, he also “assumes” various characters in he story.  The second actor only plays “Scrooge”.  The last two singer/actors play and sing most of the other roles including Marley, Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s nephew Fred; the Ghost’s of the Past and the Present, and Tiny Tim. The “Ghost of Future Christmas” is played by a solo cello.

Christianson describes the style of the piece, as a “hybrid. …..A cross between a symphonic concert, a musical, and a film score.  The “film score” part of it is heavily emphasized since we decided to highlight the “ghost” part of the story (after all, even Dickens called it “A Christmas Ghost Story”).”

I hope you will check it out!

I wrote about Bob Christianson in another Blog: EXTRA! EXTRA! MARCH MADNESS: CONNECTIONS (#10)



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